Everton Women begin their Vitality Women’s FA Cup campaign this Sunday with a home tie against Birmingham City and boss Brian Sorensen has predicted a tough encounter against the Championship side.
Everton have already met lower-league opposition this season when they faced Sheffield United and Durham FC in the Continental Cup, winning one and losing one. And Sorensen - who has been nominated for January’s Manager of the Month award - will be taking no chances as he takes charge of his first game in the competition the Blues last won over ten years ago in 2010
The Toffees head into the fixture off the back of a resounding win over West Ham United and Sorensen is hoping that the momentum will continue in a competition he is keen to see his side progress in.
“It’s the FA Cup and we will try to do the best we can and we will have the strongest team that we have available,” he said.
“We don’t quite yet have the team to compete for league titles, but you can have a good cup run. We will try to do the very best we can and go as far as possible in the cup.
“I think they (Birmingham) will be hard to play against. They have much experience in the team and we will prepare as normal.
“We are at home and we want to continue building confidence. They defend well, like to keep the ball and we are expecting a tough game but hopefully we can come out on top.”
On the injury front, Katrine Veje is still out, but the Blues are hopeful that Natalie Bjorn can overcome her hamstring problem, while Emily Ramsey, who sustained a knock in the victory over the Hammers, should also be available.
Sorensen has never been afraid to use his substitutes or rotate the squad, but it is likely that Gabby George and Jess Park - both of whom have gained nominations for January’s Player of the Month - will retain their places.
Aggie Beever-Jones, who scored her first goal in the WSL top flight last week is also in contention and Sorensen was full of praise for the teenage striker.
“We were really happy for Aggie to get the goal. We have big a belief in her and she is definitely around the starting places, as she was before the West Ham game,” said the Blues boss.
“I have said to the whole team, it’s not always about who starts, but who finishes the game. I’m not afraid to make changes as I have faith in all of the squad. We have players that are hungry to start and Aggie is one of them.”
A thumping 4-0 victory over Huddersfield Town booked Darren Carter’s side’s place at Walton Hall Park. Currently fifth in the Championship, Everton’s opponents boast a wealth of top-flight experience, with Louise Quinn proving pivotal to the club’s fortunes so far.
Only three clubs in the division have outscored Birmingham this season, but Carter’s team will be well organised and may look to hit their hosts on the break in this one.
Few Blues will forget the semi-final of 2020 when goals from Simone Magill, Nicoline Sorensen and Valerie Gauvin booked Everton’s last FA Cup final appearance. The Toffees were completely dominant that day and those on Merseyside will hope for something similar this Sunday.